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POWER > Business Strategy > ROI

Today’s Flexible Training Options Fit Time and Budget Constraints

Does this scenario sound familiar? Tom, an employee, will be joining a team to work on a new project and would like to improve his skills that relate to the new challenge. He speaks with his supervisor, Amanda, about education and training options. Amanda says she has a limited budget and might be able to spare him for two or three days but not an entire week, as Tom still needs to finish the billable project he’s working on. Amanda promises Tom that she’ll look into options.

As his manager, Amanda wants Tom to do well, but she feels constrained by the tight budget and the time that Tom will be away from his work. She knows options must be available. She calls HR and discovers she can get Tom into an online training class taught by an instructor in real time.

“Look at training not just as a short-term goal to help train people for their current project, but also as a way to fill the pipeline with skills.”
—Amy Purdy, director, Technical Training, IBM Systems

The scenario could have ended in a different, less proactive way. Companies want a well-trained workforce, but too often time constraints and budgets make it difficult for employees to get necessary training. That needn’t be the case. Various training options are available to help your employees get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

Education has expanded from the traditional classroom setting to include virtual classes and self-paced instruction. More than ever, training providers are willing to work with companies to craft training offerings that meet time and budget criteria.

“Training is not an expense, it is an investment,” says Amy Purdy, director, Technical Training, IBM Systems. “Investment in training will get paid back by your employees. An expense is where you don’t necessarily get anything back, whereas an investment will give you a return.”

Training Solutions

Like any worthwhile investment, training requires creativity, a needs assessment and a survey of options. And many different options are available, as today’s training methods are adaptable and flexible in terms of delivery methods, duration and timing.

Classroom training, known as instructor-led training, is the traditional option where students are face to face with the instructor and other students in the classroom. While instructor-led training has many benefits, it can require travel and additional time, Purdy notes.

An option that’s growing in popularity is instructor-led online (ILO) instruction. With ILO, employees utilize computer technology, webcams and connectivity suites to interact with the other students and the instructor. It provides an interactive experience as the instructor teaches the class in real time and students are given the opportunity to collaborate virtually. In some cases, classes may have students in the classroom as well as students taking the class virtually. The students in the classroom can hear the students who are taking the class virtually and vice versa. ILO is even becoming an integral part of university teaching as part of distance education offerings.

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at



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